Decision to increase Dolores Park littering fee postponed

The Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee met Wednesday morning to discuss proposed legislation to raise the fee for littering at Dolores Park to $1000, but discovered that no one has been cited for littering in the park at the current fee of $200 in the past year.

“They are not enforcing their own rules,” said Alex Albridge, a member of the public.

So, the first step, the committee seemed to agree, would be to issue littering citations at the $200 level.  

Earlier District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, who sponsored the legislation, argued that the increased fee would act as a better deterrent to littering and would reduce the amount of time park gardeners spend picking up trash, but he was unaware until the hearing that no citations had been introduced.    

“It’s a little bit about the carrot and a little bit about the stick and so far, we haven’t even been tapping the stick,” said District 1 Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer.

Robert Brust, a member of Dolores Park Works, which has been trying to clean up the park since 2009, agreed.  “We need to empower the park rangers to issue citations,” he said.

Mission District Supervisor Hillary Ronen suggested another deterrent – requiring those who litter to clean up the park.

What is clear is that some deterrent to littering is needed.

“There is still an enormous amount of garbage discarded throughout the park,” said Dennis Kern, the director of operations at San Francisco Recreation and Park Department.

Kern said that increasing the fee would make a difference because “the status quo is not working.” Sheehy added that the current fee is not working because most of the litterers in Dolores are wealthy and therefore a $200 fine is not a deterrent.

But Robert Nevoa, a member of the public, said, “We need to start tapping that stick starting at $200 or $250.”

The committee concluded that until the existing $200 fee is enforced it is pointless to raise fees so the matter will be discussed again by the committee on September 13.

In the meantime, attendees hope that the littering issue at Dolores will be addressed as a community process, but some were doubtful.

“There is no community process,” said Albridge.

You may also like:

4 Comments

  1. Donna. H

    This!

    “”” Sheehy added that the current fee is not working because most of the litterers in Dolores are wealthy and therefore a $200 fine is not a deterrent.””

    Which part of the park is Jeff Sheehy hanging out in that he thinks most Dolores Park users are so wealthy that $200 fine wouldn’t be a deterrent? I missed all those wealth people up at the SkateBoarding thing the other night??

  2. Tom Borden

    This proposed ordinance raises some troubling issues. See the text here:

    https://sfgov.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=5302142&GUID=707482F4-55F9-40EC-A977-BA80982F0B8C

    1) Currently RPD Park Code citations are handled as Civil citations and revenue goes to the City’s general fund. (See the report referenced in #4 below.) This ordinance would classify littering in Dolores Park as an administrative citation and the fine revenue would go directly to RPD. Is this a portent of things to come? Will the park patrol become another profit center for RPD? (page 2 line 24 Also see SF Admin Code Chapter 100)

    2) Anyone littering in Dolores Park could be cited for both both a civil infraction and this administrative infraction and subject to a fine for each. (page 2 line 23)

    3) SF Admin Code, Chapter 100 lays out limits for the penalties. Such penalties are supposed to reflect the cost to the City, they are not supposed to be punitive, are only to reflect the damage done by the person receiving the citation and efforts by the violator to correct the violation are supposed to be considered. The $1000 ceiling set by the proposed ordinance is much higher than the standard administrative penalties of Chapter 100. Will RPD apply excessive fines?

    4) A policy analysis report requested by Supervisor Kim shows that RPD has been issuing about 2 citations per year for littering/dumping, probably none for Dolores Park. Why are we jumping to $1000 fines when we have not even tried $100 fines?

    http://sfbos.org/sites/default/files/FileCenter/Documents/55154-Budget%20and%20Legislative%20Analyst%20Policy%20Report.%20Municipal%20Fines.%20February%209%2C%202016.pdf

    5) The park Patrol currently has no formal authority to issue citations for any Park Code violations and citations issued to date are invalid. (page 3 line 10)

    6) Getting Glass containers out of our parks seems like a good idea. However, while regular folks face the restriction, corporate groups and others paying for exclusive use of park facilities face no such prohibition. Vendors with a concession from RPD can distribute glass containers as well. Why does providing a revenue stream to RPD make it ok to use glass beverage containers in our parks? This seems like more RPD Pay-To-Play. (page 2 line 14)

    7) In 2015 RPD installed signs in Dolores prohibiting glass bottles. The intent was reasonable. However, there was no public process for this change. The regulation was created by virtue of park code 3.02:

    § 3.02. SIGNS TO BE OBEYED
    No person shall willfully disobey the notices, prohibitions or directions on any sign posted by the Recreation and Park Commission or the Recreation and Park Department.

    Via this code, RPD can create any regulation they choose, simply by putting up a sign. This involves no public process and there is no requirement to document the decision. Are 3.02 prohibitions valid? Can they stand up in court? Homeless advocates challenged 3.02 signage with a lawsuit that led to a Grand Jury investigation. The 2013 Grand Jury report included this,
    “Park Code Sec. 3.02, cited on these closure signs, mandates that “posted signs must be obeyed.” One S.F. employee stated that many signs are “non-enforceable” because closure times are posted even though they were not formally approved by Rec & Park resolution. This employee said that the department is aware of the questionable legality of the signs and intends to remove them.”
    Ultimately, this lawsuit led to the removal of the signs and the 2013 Scott Wiener park hours ordinance.

    Yet, RPD continues to wield 3.02 to create sweeping changes to our parks. The public does not know the coercive signage would probably not stand up in court. Examples of uncodified “regulations” that exist only by virtue of 3.02 are:

    -people are not allowed to bring bicycles into Natural Areas
    -public access in Natural Areas is limited to on-trail only
    -alcoholic beverages are not allowed in McLaren Park
    -glass bottles are not allowed in McLaren Park

    The process for the Dolores ordinance is the way our parks should be governed, in public, with real debate and documentation. Park Code 3.02 should be abolished.

  3. Tom Borden

    Currently RPD Park Code citations are handled as Civil citations and revenue goes to the City’s general fund. This ordinance would classify littering in Dolores Park as an administrative citation and the fine revenue would go directly to RPD. Is this a portent of things to come? Will the park patrol become another profit center for RPD?
    A policy analysis report requested by Supervisor Kim shows that RPD has been issuing about 2 citations per year for littering/dumping, probably none for Dolores Park. Why are we jumping to $1000 fines when we have not even tried $100 fines?
    Getting Glass containers out of our parks seems like a good idea. However, while regular folks face the restriction, corporate groups and others paying for exclusive use of park facilities face no such prohibition. Vendors with a concession from RPD can distribute glass containers as well. Why does providing a revenue stream to RPD make it ok to use glass beverage containers in our parks? This seems like more RPD Pay-To-Play.

  4. Laura A Ryan

    Rather than any fine, it would make much more sense to make litterers pick up litter Sat and Sun nights.

Something to add?

Full name required to post. For full details, read our Policy